Beyond the Basics

Beyond the Basics: Alcohol with Benoît Marsan PhD

With Benoît Marsan
Wednesday Oct 18 2023 5:00 pm BST


Join Benoît Marsan PhD, Professor of Science and Wine at the Université du Québec à Montréal as he explores one of wines most crucial components - alcohol. Often over-simplified and regularly misunderstood, the affect of alcohol on our experience of tasting a wine as well as the stability of a wine should not be ignored. We're delighted to be able to offer such an insightful event from one of the world's leading experts on the subject, exclusively to our membership.

Further Synopsis

Ethanol is the most abundant compound in dry wine after water. It is formed by yeast during the anaerobic process of alcoholic fermentation, which transforms sugars (mostly glucose and fructose) into ethanol and carbon dioxide (CO2) with the release of heat and of a series of by-products contributing to the wine organoleptic profile. Ethanol is the only molecule intrinsically linked to the definition of wine, which must contain a minimum of 8.5 % by volume (OIV). But what are the main factors controlling its concentration in the final wine?

This webinar will give the chemical definition of an alcohol with examples of alcohol and polyalcohol compounds found in wine, such as higher alcohols, monoterpene alcohols, sugar alcohols, and glycerol, and their sensorial impact. But more specifically, it will look at the physical, chemical and sensory properties of ethanol, and discuss why it is so important to wine (during winemaking, wine aging and tasting).

How ethanol promotes wine stability? How does it generate aroma compounds? How does it affect the perception of aromas? Do ethanol is impacting the sensation of sweetness? Sourness? Bitterness? Tannin astringency?             

The new generation of consumers is looking to different wines than 20 years ago. They want lighter and more fruity wines with less alcohol, less oaky notes, and preferably certified organic or biodynamic, if not 'nature' without any added sulphites. On the other hand, climate change is causing greater accumulation of sugar in grape, giving wines with more alcohol. In this context, what a winemaker can do to produce wines with less alcohol? And most importantly, what is the sensory quality of these wines?

Benoît Marsan Bio

Benoît has been a professor at Université du Québec à Montréal for over 35 years where he specialises in the chemistry of wine.